The Sunderban Mela celebrates the diverse arts and crafts of the Sunderbans, a mangrove area at the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal. This festival highlights the unique cultural landscape of the region and is dedicated to showcasing the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)-based crafts and performing arts of the Sunderbans. The festival features various folk art forms such as Bhatiyali, Bonbibir Pala, Jhumur, shola work, Chau dance and Baul songs. Bhatiyali, a mystic form of folk music sung by boatmen while sailing down the rivers, has 150 practicing artists in Jogeshganj Block in the Sunderbans. Bonbibir Pala, a mythology-based folk drama, is practised by 18 groups residing in Jameshpur, Bali, Rangabelia and Jameshgunj. Jhumur, introduced by groups of migrants from Chota Nagpur Plateau during the British rule, is currently practiced by 17 groups in different parts of the Sunderbans, especially Jameshpur and Dayapur. The Sunderban Mela brings together such diverse folk artforms as part of the Rural Craft and Cultural Hubs (RCCH) initiative undertaken by the Department of MSME&T, Govt. of West Bengal and UNESCO.
The festival was held between 15 and 16 April at Pakhiralay, Gosaba block in South 24 Paraganas.
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How To Get There
How to Reach Sunderbans
1. By Air: Nearest airport is the Netaji Subhash International Airport at Dumdum, Kolkata, which is nearly 112 km away from the Sundarbans. After arriving at Kolkata, one should take either the train or the road to visit the Sunderbans.
2. By Rail: The nearest railway station is Canning. It is nearly 48 km away from the Sundarbans. From Sealdah (Kolkata) there are many local trains to Canning throughout the day. From Canning, one can take the bus to Namkhana, Raidighi, Sonakhali and Najat from where motorboat services are available for the Sunderbans.
3. By Road: From Esplanade (Kolkata) and Howrah, one can get many buses to go to Namkhana (approximately 105 km), Sonakhali (approximately 100 km) Raidhighi (approximately 76 km) Canning (approximately 64 km) and Najat (approximately 92 km). Taxi services are also available from Kolkata. All the above mentioned places are in the Sunderbans region and have easy access to waterways.
Items & Accessories To Carry
1. Light and airy cotton clothes; Sunderbans is typically very hot in April.
2. A sturdy water bottle, if the festival has refillable water stations, and if the venue allows bottles to be taken inside.
3. Comfortable footwear such as sneakers (a perfect option if it’s not likely to rain).
4. COVID packs: Hand sanitiser, extra masks and a copy of your vaccination certificate are things you should keep handy.
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